I’ve long-since gotten over my critter-feeding anguish. I now regularly bring a bag of roasted peanuts (unsalted, of course) when we go to the woods, and I try to scatter them in various random places at Roundrock. But I usually just leave most of them on this old fallen tree near our shelter. On our last trip to Roundrock I did this very thing just after we had our lunch, leaving the old tree stocked up pretty much as you see in the photo above.
And then we drove over to our new campsite to plant the remaining nannyberry plants. I think there were about eight left to be put in the ground, and while I’d like to scatter them in various random places at Roundrock, I thought we might put them where we would see them, at least at first. These seem like vigorous plants, and if we have luck this year, I intend to order more for next year. I checked on their Missouri-ness since my land ethic at Roundrock calls on me to plant only Missouri native plants. It turns out they are native only to the most exteme northeastern part of the state, apparently in just one county, as you can see on the map here. But that’s good enuf for my land ethic, and maybe my “massive” planting plan will get it established elsewhere in the state.
The soil is much easier for working up by the new campsite. In places I can dig and not hit even one rock. The topsoil is rich-looking and black, but after about two inches, the soil beneath it is brown and surprisingly sandy. (We don’t find much sandstone in this part of the forest so . . . I don’t know what that might mean.) But after a morning of digging in rocks, it was a pleasure to dig in this soil.
Funny thing about our new campsite: we keep a pair of comfy chairs there at all times. So, after a day of planting and a nice lunch, those chairs were calling to us. What could we do? We’re only human. We settled ourselves in the comfy chairs and had ourselves a little siesta. The frogs kept up their intermittent chorus, though they were farther away this time. And the wind blew through the canopy above us. The sun had found us. Life, again, was good. I’m not sure how long we were there. Maybe a half hour of blissful sitting. And then we thought we should head back because there was one more chore left for the day.
We drove the truck back to the shelter site overlooking the lake, and there was a surprise waiting for us. All of the peanuts we had set out less than two hours before were gone. Completely gone. Not even a shell was left!
This was interesting. I’ve long wondered just what critters gobble these goobers. I’ve thought that some sort of wildlife telegraph message goes out when the nuts are left and all sorts of critters come to the site, taking turns in a sort of peaceable kingdom moment. But I’m beginning to think otherwise.
I’ll bet now that if I chopped open that old tree, I’d find a huge cache of peanuts hidden within it. You can see the hole there. Does some rodent live inside a giant cavity there? And is the rodent wily enuf to know when the peanuts have been delivered? If so, I may as well pour the nuts directly in the hole from now on to save the critter the trouble of coming outside. I won’t chop open that log, but I will wonder about it.
The last item on our day’s agenda was to sink a fence post beside the maple we had planted and put a chickenwire cage around it as we have for most of the other trees we have planted. The maple was on the other side of the lake. The fence post was one thing to carry, but the weighty post driver was another. And the roll of chickenwire. I took the two heavier objects (plus I had the backpack with assorted tools and two bottles of water). Libby shouldered the fencing. And off we went. As we hiked across the dam, Libby spotted two empty peanut shells. Hmmmm.
We’re old hands at the fencing-around-a-tree game, so we got that work done quickly. Then it was time to find a tick-free rock (they’re already out — how about a few more freezing nights to knock down their numbers?), sit, and enjoy our bottles of water. And we did. We then filled the empty bottles with lake water and poured it on the soil around the base of the maple. This tree will get a bit more attention this summer as it gets established in its new neighborhood, and the maple we put down by the pecan plantation is doing splendidly (after a couple years of questionable progress — but that was without fencing at first), so I am hopeful about this maple as well.
The time had come to head home. We hiked back to the truck, set out our remaining peanuts on the old log, and drove out. The sun had been shining most of the afternoon, and the wind was high, so I hoped that the road across the meadow was drier and firmer. Nonetheless, I hit that road as fast as I could and didn’t look back.
(Now I’m waiting for my shortleaf pines to arrive. I may have to go down to the woods again this coming weekend!)
- Double-crested cormorants arrive at wetland areas late this month.